Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea: Premier League – 22/08/2021

Following their tepid 2-0 defeat to Brentford on the opening day, the pressure has begun to rise on Mikel Arteta and his team.

Heading into Sunday’s game, Arsenal’s first at the Emirates Stadium this season under the watchful eye of their fans, there was still an air of “we’re going to get beaten today”.

Arsenal’s form hasn’t exactly been stellar stuff, but equally, its notable absences that lead to such a shocking attitude from the fans. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was back in the squad following his COVID-19 diagnosis, however, Alexandre Lacazette, Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson and new signing Ben White, were absent with COVID too, meanwhile Martin Ødegaard did not have his visa sorted in time and Gabriel Magalhães and Thomas Partey were not fit.

If ever a team looked it had multiple players missing from it, it was Arsenal. Holding and Marí, who had formed an uneasy yet effective partnership last season, were torn apart by Chelsea new boy Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku’s strength was far too much to handle for Arsenal, especially for Marí, who was tossed aside as if he were a rag doll, which allowed Lukaku space in the box as he tapped in from close-range to give the visitors the lead.

Arsenal looked deflated and dejected.

Arsenal looked shaken and perhaps need the rallying cries of established seniors, but with only Granit Xhaka on the field to do the rallying, there simply wasn’t enough experience and it was unsurprising that Chelsea added a second a quarter of an hour later.

The second-half was a more confident showing from the home side. Whether that be because Chelsea took their foot off the gas or because Arsenal were slowly growing in confidence is unknown. Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli had shots early on that tested Édouard Mendy, but ultimately, Arsenal were well beaten by this point and a few snapshots were not going to change that.

The final whistle was a welcome sound as Arsenal trudged off the field to a chorus of boos and jeers.

In Arsenal’s defence, taking six starting players out of any team and they would probably struggle to provide much of an attacking threat ot defensive rigidity.

The absences of Thomas Partey and Gabriel Magalhães were the most notable. Partey’s ability to control possession in midfield and Gabriel’s strengths were two things Arsenal desperately lacked on the day.

Romelu Lukaku was far too much for Arsenal to handle, especially Pablo Marí.

It seemed as though there was very little that Mikel Arteta could realistically have done to improve things. The formation could probably have been switched to a back-three in order to provide more cover for the defence, but realistically, the Spaniard was doing the best he could with what he had available to him.

With Manchester City looming on the horizon in the league, it seems unlikely that Arsenal will be grabbing three points anytime soon. City are the favourites for the title and Arsenal are currently unable to score even a consolation goal at the moment. The hard part for Mikel Arteta now will be preventing a blood-bath.

The final days of the transfer window will be decisive for Arsenal now.

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
17.) Cédric Soares
16.) Rob Holding
22.) Pablo Marí
  3.) Kieran Tierney (Tavares 66’)
34.) Granit Xhaka (c)
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
19.) Nicolas Pépé
10.) Emile Smith Rowe
  7.) Bukayo Saka (Aubameyang 61’)
35.) Gabriel Martinelli (Balogun 79’)

Arsenal subs:
32.) Aaron Ramsdale
21.) Calum Chambers
20.) Nuno Tavares
31.) Sead Kolašinac
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
25.) Mohamed Elneny
24.) Reiss Nelson
26.) Folarian Balogun

Chelsea team:
16.) Édouard Mendy
28.) César Azpilicueta (c)
  4.) Andreas Christensen
  2.) Antonio Rüdiger
24.) Reece James
  5.) Jorginho
  8.) Mateo Kovačić (Kanté 72’)
  3.) Marcos Alonso
19.) Mason Mount (Ziyech 82’)
29.) Kai Havertz (Werner 90’)
  9.) Romelu Lukaku

Chelsea subs:
  1.) Kepa Arrizabalaga
  6.) Thiago Silva
15.) Kurt Zouma
14.) Nathaniel Chalobah
21.) Ben Chilwell
  7.) N’Golo Kanté
22.) Hakim Ziyech
20.) Callum Hudson-Odoi
11.) Timo Werner

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